The Chicago Fire were in last place in the Eastern Conference to start Week 13. But they sure didn’t play like it, blanking the Houston Dynamo 4-0 on Wednesday night at Soldier Field in their best performance of 2020 under first-year head coach Raphael Wicky.
The Dynamo (3W-4L-6D, 15pts) could do nothing to contain the buzzing Fire front four, whose movement created havoc as Chicago (3W-7L-3D, 12pts) put a three-spot on Houston in the first half and they tacked on another for good measure toward the end of the game.
Star forward Robert Beric tallied his third goal in as many matches to open the scoring in the 15th minute, splitting the Dynamo center backs to redirect a cross. Eight minutes later Fabian Herbers finished off a beautiful through ball from Ignacio Aliseda. And five minutes before the halftime break Alvaro Medran made a solo run from midfield, down the heart of the Dynamo defense to put the Fire up 3-0.
And to think that the Fire also had a first-half penalty kick that was reversed after Video Review and that Djordje Mihailovic scored a stunning fourth goal that was called back for offside. The Fire would eventually add a fourth goal on a late penalty: CJ Sapong converted the 89th-minute PK retake after Houston goalkeeper Marko Maric saved the first attempt by illegally coming off his line early.
Houston made three halftime subs and created more dangerous opportunities – substitute Ariel Lassiter struck the post in the 71st minute – but it was too little, too late against a superior Fire side which was aided by a tactical tweak made by Wicky: Herbers was shifted into the middle of the three in his 4-2-3-1 with Aliseda staying wide.
- 15' — CHI — Robert Beric | WATCH
- 23' — CHI — Fabian Herbers | WATCH
- 40' — CHI — Alvaro Medran | WATCH
- 89' — CHI — CJ Sapong | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Although the results haven’t always been there, the Fire have progressed from game to game in 2020 with a clear idea of how they want to play. It all came together against Houston and it’s a result that should prove to be an injection of belief as they look to make a move up the standings in the East. Meanwhile, after a six-game undefeated run, Houston have now lost two of three as the schedule congestion looks to have caught up with a Dynamo team that is usually the one setting the tempo.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It was the exclamation mark on a sensational first half by the Fire as Alvaro Medran scored the third goal of the match on a solo run … from midfield!
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Manager Raphael Wicky revealed that he opted to play Herbers centrally because of his ability to help defensively while also making attacking runs in behind the defense. The German midfielder did both really well against Houston and he earned the curtain-call sub in the 87th minute. Partly thanks to Herbers, the Fire found a set-up in which they looked balanced, dangerous and confident.
- CHI: Sun., Sept. 27 vs. Atlanta United (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
- HOU: Sat., Sept. 26 at Nashville SC (3:30 pm ET | Univision, TUDN, Twitter)